Monthly Archives: February 2014

Coconut Surprise Muffins

 

 

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I did a thing.

School is exhausting. I dance all day and I come home and I’m dead. My brain won’t function well enough to create so I usually make a super simple meal and sit and watch an episode of House of Cards, read The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, write, or do some housework. Essentially, I’m saying that I unfortunately haven’t had the mental capacity to invent any new and crazy food things. HOWEVER, I’m simple reinventing the golden nuggets I already have (such as the artichoke salad that’s based on the lentil salad!). Also I’ll admit this was created from some stress baking… Moving on… remember the coconut loaf I made a lifetime ago? The one that is heavenly? Well. I turned them into muffins. And I added a surprise in the middle…

 

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For Valentines Day, my parents sent me this AWESOME salted almond dark chocolate bar. It’s so decadent and dynamic (not to mention fairtrade and organic!!). Sometimes things are so good you don’t want to taint them; this was not one of those things. I wanted to give this phenomenal chocolate bar a new lease on life – let it stretch it’s legs and do some good in the world. So I plopped a nice fatty chunk in the middle of coconut muffins. BAM.

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I was inspired by this recipe for coconut muffins, but I (of course) mostly based it off my coconut loaf. I didn’t add dates or maple syrup so the coconut dough part isn’t very sweet, but that’s what makes the chocolate stand out… ya’ know? Whoa, epiphany: coconut coffee muffins – using strong coffee or espresso instead of milk alternative. As for an alternative to the surprise in the middle… good dark chocolate just seems to be the best option! Maybe a couple of berries or nuts or dried fruit? of course you could always add chocolate chips. It’s just that chocolate fulfills all desires. ­čÖé

SURPRISE: check the very bottom for another surprise.

COCONUT SURPRISE MUFFINS: Makes 12 medium sized muffins (15 small)

  • 2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons ground flax + 6 tablespoons water)
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 small ripe bananas, mashed well
  • 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk, from a can
  • 1/3 cup milk alternative (I used unsweetened almond-coconut)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup spelt flour (or all purpose)
  • 1 1/2 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • scant 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 good quality chocolate bar (I seriously mean GOOD quality)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350F and prep a muffin tin with coconut oil, or muffin liners (my muffin tin is oddly small so I also greased some small ramekins).

In a small bowl, mix ground flax and water to make the flax eggs, let sit for 10 mins.

In a large bowl, combine all the wet ingredients, including the thickened flax egg.

In another large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients, including the coconut. Add the wet to the dry and mix until just combined. The batter will be quite thick.

Fill each hole in the muffin tin half way with batter. You’ll most likely have to use your fingers to squish it into the corners a bit. Place a chunk of chocolate in the middle of each muffin and cover with remaining batter. Squish the batter around the edges to make sure the chocolate is well contained (you don’t want it to pop out and burn!)

Cook for 20-25 minutes until the tops are slightly golden, and spring back when lightly pressed. Let cool for 10 minutes. BUT ONLY TEN MINUTES OTHERWISE THE CHOCOLATE WILL NO LONGER BE ALL MOLTEN OR SURPRISING.

Keep in a sealed container. To reheat, pop them in the oven at 200F for a few minutes (or pop into a microwave for a few seconds).

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HELLO AGAIN! Are you truly still reading after seeing the recipe? Cool! Anyway, to further convince you that I’m not creating much these days but simply reinventing, the above photo is of apple muffins. Remember my fruit explosion muffins?? Yep, I made them into apple muffins using 1 1/2 cup fresh apples and 1/2 cup dried apples. I then topped some with cinnamon, some with walnuts, and some with… you guessed it… raisins.

At this time of year, we’re all exhausted and pissed off and DONE WITH EVERYTHING. But remember that there is baking, and love, and coffee, and dreams, and passions. Being productive is difficult, but small steps still move you forward. If anything, let me inspire you to keep on moving. Even if it’s only a single breath.

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Artichoke and Lentil Salad

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Let’s add artichokes to my list of addictions. I will never be able to get enough of them. Initially, I wanted to undertake the great task of using a fresh artichoke. However, I guess I picked an extremely unripe one so in frustration I walked to Provigo and bought a jar of marinated artichoke hearts. It was a damn good idea.

The jar of artichoke hearts I bought were marinated in oregano so this tasted extremely similar to the lentil salad I posted in November, I chose to be lazy and used a bit of the oil they were marinated in as the dressing, and just added a huge squeeze of lemon juice. The major upgrade in this is the addition of a whole ton of fresh herbs.

If you’re like me, you have leftovers up the… yeah. So this comes together super easily when there are cooked lentils ready and waiting in the fridge. I suppose this could also work with a grain such as amaranth or rice (or quinoa!), but it would also work as a starter/ side salad for a bigger meal without the grain or lentils. VERSATILITY! I’ll just admit to being a bit of a lazy “cook/chef/baker” and say that I use whatever is in the fridge. I usually just go grocery shopping with flavours in mind, and get what’s on sale. I’m quite a compulsive grocery shopper… and yet I never buy cookies….. I digress. This salad is wonderful. The solid lentils and the slippery artichokes and the salty marinade/oil rock and lasted well the next day for lunch.┬á

ARTICHOKE AND LENTIL SALAD: serves 2

  • 3/4 cup – 1 cup cooked french lentils
  • 2 cups spring greens (or spinach, or chard, or kale, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly ripped
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly ripped
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons artichoke marinade, (or olive oil with a sprinkle of dried oregano)
  • 4 whole marinated artichoke hearts, cut into quarters
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method:

In a large salad bowl, mix all ingredients except the artichoke heart segments, and a few leaves of each fresh herb. Divide the salad into two bowls and divide the artichoke segments equally. Garnish with the remaining fresh herbs and add a healthy grind of black pepper on top.

Feast of Saint Valentine

I lied to you all. I’m posting on this wonderful day the things I made for the loves in my life. I feel quite full of love, and I want to start expressing it: a)more explicitly; and b) more often. So I’ll begin today with a few goodies for the soul.

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From one morbid soul to another. I made Coconut Butter Skull Crushers (with cranberry-raspberry chia jam inside. When you bite into them it looks like bloody brains…. hehehe). Inspiration from here and here.

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Then I made these brownies. But I made them in a muffin tin (and a few in tiny ramekins) and topped them with the cran-raspberry chia jam. They are the perfect single serving little cakey-brownies. Although I detest cake, I love making brownies and I love baking for my loves.

Beyond food, I choose to love ALL today. I don’t care if you think v-day is a cop-out and it’s just an excuse to do nice things and express our feelings. Well, at least we have an excuse to treat the ones we love!! MUCHO LOVE. (Wow… world record for number of times a post could have the word “love”)

Raw Lasagna Stacks

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Oh yes. It happened. A wonderful raw lasagna with a basil “ricotta” sandwiched between layers of cucumber, zucchini, tomato and a few sunflower sprouts with a giant dollop of basil pesto. And Kalamata olives. BUT WAIT. IT’S ALMOST VALENTINES DAY. I’m making a few recipes to treat the few loves in my life and I’ll post them soon, however what I post won’t be super relevant since Valentines day will have passed. OH WELL. If you need chocolate, check these raw brownies out, or these brownies, or these cookies, or these chocolate┬áturtles. But if you want to butter your lover up with some awesome powerful veggies…. read on!

The wonderful thing about this recipe is how simple it was. Yes, there are three parts to it, and assembling the ingredients take a little bit of time. But you basically throw things into a blender and slice up some veggies, then the fun ensues! I had way too much fun engineering a way to stack mine incredibly tall. Once it came down to eating it, I used a sharp pairing knife and dug in. If it all crumbled, I would have just eaten the veggies slathered in “ricotta” and dipped in the pesto.

I’ll be honest; I made this lasagna based on the olives. I found this amazing grocer with an amazing olive bar. AN OLIVE BAR. I WAS DYING. I adore olives. ah. (and frozen peas and raisins…) Anyway, I bought these olives and I thought that pesto went with olives so I made some pesto and one thing lead to another. I don’t really know.

After the odd conception of the lasagna, I looked up some other blogger’s and chef’s raw lasagna. I saw a few recipes for uncooked lasagna that included tortilla layers (specifically Ezekiel 4:9 sprouted tortillas). I think that would be a fantastic extra layer and it would make these babies even more filling.

RAW LASAGNA STACKS: (serves 4)

For the ricotta:

  • 1/2 cup firm silken tofu
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon agave (or liquid sweetener of choice)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 5 large basil leaves

For the pesto:

  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tiny garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro (or spinach)
  • 1 tablespoon walnuts (or nut of choice, or bland nut butter – not peanut butter)
  • salt and pepper to taste (a small pinch of each)

For the stacks:

  • 1 english cucumber, left unpeeled and thinly sliced 1/8th inch thick and 3-4 inched long
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced 1/8th inch thick
  • 1 large zucchini, unpeeled and sliced 1/8th inch thick and 3-4 inches long
  • 1/2 cup sprouts of choice
  • 16 fresh basil leaves
  • Kalamata olives for garnish

Method:

For the ricotta: blend everything except the fresh basil in short bursts until the mixture is smooth. Add the fresh basil and continue blending until the mixture is creamy. This will keep in the fridge for about 1 week.

For the pesto: Blend all the ingredients until smooth.

To assemble the stacks, begin with 2 pieces of cucumber and a spoonful of ricotta. Layer on some sprouts and a few basil leaves, followed by a layer of tomato and a layer of zucchini. Repeat. Finish each stack off with a large spoonful of pesto and a few kalamata olives.

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Roasted Cauliflower Salad

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Holy sweet bb. THIS SALAD. Over the holidays, my pops and I found a beautiful head of organic cauliflower (and I knew exactly what to do with it). This recipe was awesomely easy, and the cinnamon and allspice work really well with the earthy cauliflower.

Raw cauliflower makes me toot but the flavour of cauliflower is something I crave from time to time. In the summer, my roommates and I had a picnic and we made a roasted cauliflower salad from Ottolenghi’s cookbook, Jerusalem. It was a hearty salad with lots of celery and a great balance of sweet and smoky and tart flavours. I drew inspiration from that recipe, but we had one tiny 3 inch long piece of celery, so we improvised on the veggie front and made this wonderful one-bowl meal. A nice thing about this dish, is that you could use any raw vegetables. With a basic leafy-green base, and complimentary crunchy veggies, the possibilities are endless. (sometimes infinity isn’t so much scary as it is tantalizing on the taste buds)

I imagine this to be a sturdy enough salad to serve as left overs (or take for lunch the next day!). Next time I make this, I’d probably add frozen peas and maybe some shredded carrot. I’m also a big fan of parsley, so I’d probably increase the amount of parsley I put in too. Let me know what you think!

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER SALAD: (serves 3-4)

  • 1 large head cauliflower, broken up into small florets
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 3 cups spinach, roughly ripped
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas, chopped
  • 1/2 cup radishes, roughly sliced
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, roughly ripped up
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds (from half a medium sized pomegranate)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • nuts or seeds, for garnish (almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp hearts, cashews, walnuts – anything)

Method:

Preheat oven to 375F. Mix the cauliflower with the grapeseed oil with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a bit of black pepper. Spread the cauliflower on a baking pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until it’s golden on top and slightly crispy on the bottom. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and let cool.

Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl, mix well and adjust the salt and pepper to your liking. Serve at room temperature.